“I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love” (Song of Solomon 5:8)
CAT 52. Jacob van der Heyden. “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love” (Song of Solomon 5:8) in Daniel Sudermann, Hohe geistreiche Lehren und Erklärungen: uber . . . desz Hohen Lieds Salomonis. Frankfurt: Eberhardt Kieser, 1622, p. 44. Melville Memorial Room, Berkshire Athenaeum.
In this image, van der Heyden shows the crowned figure speaking to the daughters of Jerusalem, apparently extolling the virtues of the beloved in the canopied bed. In the text that Sudermann uses as the inscription to van der Heyden ’s engraving, the female rather than the male beloved is speaking: “I charge you, O, daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love” (5:8). The previous verse of the Song, one of its most mysterious and troublesome, is not illustrated in Sudermann’s book: “The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me” (5:7).
The German-language text on the verso of Melville’s engraving shows the beginning of Sudermann’s commentary on verse 10 of canticle 5, in which the beloved, prompted by the daughters of Jerusalem, begins to tell them what is so special about her beloved: “Mein Geliebter ist weiß und roht / außerkohren under viel tausenden” (“My beloved is white and ruddy, one of the chiefest among ten thousand”). In the portion of the commentary visible on the verso, the argument in rhymed couplets moves quickly from the secular world of the “Vielen Töchtern” of Jerusalem to the religious one of the prophet who warns Israel about “Feúr und Flam̄” (fire and flame).